The trend continues. The entire story of this section revolves around a prophecy about the Messiah: that he would be called out of Egypt.
It all begins with an angel in a dream. Joseph, at this point, must be feeling a bit violated. I mean, can’t a guy sleep in peace without all these visitors? Now, based on what we heard about Herod and the Magi from the previous section, it would be logical that Herod would try to find Jesus, potentially to kill him.
You know what people don’t talk about enough? That Jesus, apparently, lived in Egypt with his parents from age 2-4. I wonder where they lived. As the parent of a young child, I can’t imagine the horror that the people who lived near Bethlehem underwent as Herod slaughtered all of their young children. It doesn’t even say sons, despite Herod knowing it’s a king.
In the last bit, Matthew tries to tack on another prophecy about weeping and crying in Ramah. You the know the problem with that though? Ramah is nowhere near Bethlehem. 31 miles away, approximately, which is quite a distance at that time. Yes, it appears we are returning to Matthews habit of just pretending like a prophecy fits exactly, when it actually doesn’t.
If what Matthew says about their escape to Egypt is accurate, which based on current evidence, it may be, then the first prophecy fits well. We know Herod was paranoid in his later years, and fully capable of ordering such behaviour. It isn’t in Josephus, but that’s likely because the total baby deaths is about 12, which wasn’t a big deal to people back then with such high infant mortality rates. Sad but true.
However, trying to say that such baby murder is the cause for the other outcry not only doesn’t fit the prophecy, it was only true for one town and it’s immediate area, not for a whole county. Plus, if that prophecy fits anything, it would probably be Herod murdering thousands of Jewish leaders because he didn’t want the Jews to rejoice upon his death. Yeah, messed up.
This is my reasonable assessment. Herod did hear about Jesus, he did get duped by the magi, and he did tell his soldiers to kill all the children under 2, probably just sons, in the town of Bethlehem. It’s entirely plausible that Joseph and family ran away, likely to other family members who lived in Egypt, presuming that is where they went. However, Matthew is reaching a bit with the second prophecy. Nice try buddy.
Grace and Peace to you all.